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BIRMINGHAM: India's unbeaten run in the 2013 Champions Trophy culminated in a thrilling five-run win over hosts England in a rain-ravaged final that was reduced to 20 overs per innings following several delays.
The game matched the weather in its ebbs and flows.
Asked to bat, India were shot out for a nonthreatening 129/7, a total reached from a perilous 66/5 through Virat Kohli (43) and Ravindra Jadeja (33).
England then made a hash of it at the start. Stranded on 46/4, they were helped along by a 64-run stand between Eoin Morgan (33) and Ravi Bopara (30), a partnership that brought them to within 22 runs of victory.
But on a pitch that was taking turn and assisted by fielders who kept their heads in crisis, MS Dhoni's side restricted the hosts to 124/8, unable to muster the 15 they needed off R. Ashwin's last over of the match.
The victory completes Dhoni's rich haul as captain, adding another feather in a cap that includes a World Cup and a Twenty20 World Cup, and the No.1 rankings in Tests and ODIs. Dhoni's protege Jadeja, aside from his pivotal cameo, took two wickets and finished the tournament's top wicket-taker with 12 scalps in five games.
Ashwin took a good catch to send Alastair Cook packing in the second over. The England skipper was surprised by Umesh Yadav’s extra pace and the ball flew off the shoulder of the bat for a sharp catch to the right of first slip.
Jonathan Trott, having begun with a string of confident hits, ventured to flick Ashwin and was stumped smartly down the leg-side by MS Dhoni off a wide ball. The Chennai offie then spun out Joe Root, the baby-faced and precociously talented batsman top-edging an attempted pull for Ishant Sharma to run in from deep square leg for a comfortable catch.
Opener Ian Bell had watched the chase dissolve into disrepair. He reverse-swept Jadeja to gain momentum, but on the very next ball was given stumped by the third umpire, Dhoni's snappy work swaying a borderline decision in his team's favour.
The home team were on 46/4 after ten overs, the ball turning square and the asking rate climbing alarmingly into the land of no approach. Eighty-four were needed in the last 10 overs and then 48 in the last five, as Ishant was taken to the cleaners.
Bopara welcomed Jadeja back with a slog-swept six and Dhoni's persistence with Ishant cost another Morgan-inflicted maximum, the equation standing on 22 needed off 18. The next two deliveries swung the match again as Morgan and Bopara, in their hurry to win it, fell on successive balls.
A rash of run outs later England needed 15 in Ashwin's last over to win their first ODI title. It was not to be. Ashwin conceded a boundary, but that was about all that happened. India were deserving winners of the last Champions Trophy.
A late partnership of 47 in 33 balls between Kohli and Jadeja kept them in the hunt after a collapse looked imminent at 66/5 in 13 overs. India would have thought themselves favourites; several delays had reduced the final to a Twenty20 shootout that was made possible only because the ICC made up for the deplorable lack of a rest day by adding 75 minutes to the playing time.
But with a new ball from either end, England had their tails up early. Rohit Sharma survived an edgy time in the middle before Stuart Broad’s faith in the full and fast delivery destroyed his off-stump.
Another drizzle interrupted play with India on 19/1 after four overs. Shikhar Dhawan welcomed the resumption by slashing Broad for a six over third man, both feet off the ground.
A few balls later, further rain warranted more evasive measures, and once again Dhawan picked up the threads undisturbed, sweeping and reverse-sweeping off-spinner James Tredwell for boundaries.
But Tredwell and England’s fifth bowler Bopara soon took over the contest. No sooner did the fifty come up for India, in the ninth over, that Dhawan hit Bopara’s slower delivery to Tredwell at extra cover.
The balding off-spinner then removed Dinesh Karthik through a top-edged slog sweep, held comfortably by Morgan as if to atone for the four overthrows he had earlier conceded.
Suresh Raina hadn’t spent much time in the middle all tournament, and he became the fourth wicket to fall, swiping Bopara across to line for Cook to snaffle a dead-straight projectile at mid-on. In the same over skipper Dhoni perished playing the upper cut, giving Bopara two wickets in the only maiden of the innings.
Kohli sought to restore India to even keel. He creamed boundaries in Bopara’s last over and smashed Bresnan through midwicket, before Trott put down his catch at short third man.
The reprieve was celebrated by a savage pull for six off Broad. At the other end, Sir Jadeja did one better, at least visually, by stepping aside – a la Srinivasan – and scorching Anderson way over long-off for another maximum. Kohli was caught trying to hit Anderson out of the park by a tumbling Bopara. Jadeja continued his little onslaught, an invaluable cameo that carried India to 129/7, and allowed their bowlers to steal yet another tournament win.
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CHAMPIONS TROPHY: England lose rain-hit 20-over final by 5 runs.Yahoo! Cricket – Sun 23 Jun, 2013 2:22 PM IST
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